Starting Friday, the Albany Alleycats will represent the Eastern New York Soccer Association in the girls’ soccer regional tournament of the National Championship Series taking place in Charleston, West Virginia.
Three groups of Alleycats, to be exact.
Teams from the Capital Region-based program recently won Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association State Open Cup championships at the U13, U16 and U17 levels. Also from the Capital Region, a Black Watch Premier squad will represent the ENYYSA at the U18 level.
For the U17 Alleycats, they will look to try to ride the momentum from their recent success into the tournament after recently defeating Long Island’s Gold Coast FC Liverpool 7-1 in the state cup championship at Stringham Park on June 2.
Olivia Piraino, Lauren DeWeese, Megan Krohn, Chase Livesey, Izzy O’Clair and Margot Nezaj all contributed goals to the win, with Piraino scoring twice. The Alleycats also defeated Farmingdale Stars United 5-1 in the semifinals and Black Watch Premier 4-1 in the quarterfinals.
U17 Alleycats coach Brian Gordon is confident in his team heading into the tournament.
“We already beat two of the teams and can beat any team on our day,” Gordon said.
Gordon praised the depth of the team and that the squad does not lose much by going to the bench, which they rely on heavily. Highlighting his team’s strengths as “honesty, hard working, pressure — including from the front — and attacking,” Gordon said his group’s success stems from how it plays as a collective unit.
Some of the key players Gordon named heading into the regionals were Piraino, Emily Drake, Carla Burns and his center-back pairing of Ianah Mackey and DeWeese.
For the U16 squad, it heads to regionals after defeating Nirvana 360 Illusion 2-1 in extra time in a highly contested game that was also played at Stringham Park.
Olivia Martuscello scored the game-winning goal in the second period of extra time after Sydney Wells scored for the Alleycats during regulation.
The Alleycats U13 team is also headed to Charleston after winning their second straight state championship on June 1 in Stringham Park.
The youngest member of the Alleycats championship trio defeated SDA East Kicks 3-0, thanks to a two-goal effort from Casey Holstein along with a goal from Ani Safaryan to make sure goalkeeper Hailey Blake’s shutout was not wasted. This was the second year in a row the Alleycats defeated SDA East Kicks for the title following last year’s 4-2 victory.
U13 coach Chris Le said his team is more experienced and more mature than when the squad went to West Virginia last year.
“The team has played a lot of tough games, dictates how the game should be played and makes people play their style of play,” Le said.
Much like the older teams the young Alleycats, play a dynamic and disciplined style of soccer, where all of the players are allowed to attack, but also must defend.
“No one is afraid to go forward,” Le said.
Along with being more experienced than when they played in last year’s regional tournament, which saw the team fall in the group stage, Le called this year’s team a deep group with strong chemistry and good athletes.
Regional action runs through July 4.
Tyrell Feaster is an intern at The Daily Gazette. Feaster, a junior at the University at Albany, is majoring in journalism.
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